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Commercial DUI in California


Individuals who operate commercial vehicles—such as a semi-truck transporting precious cargo or a school bus carrying students—must obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL). In comparison to noncommercial drivers, CDL holders are held to a much higher standard, especially when it comes to drunk driving. 

Legal Limit for Commercial Drivers in California 

In California and in most states across the country, a commercial driver can get a DUI with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .04 percent or greater. On the other hand, the legal limit for non-commercial drivers is .08 percent. 

Penalties for Commercial Drivers in CA 

A conviction for a first commercial DUI in California not only carries the same penalties as a first offense for a noncommercial driver, such as a jail sentence of up to six months, probation between three to five years, and/or fines of up to $1,000 (not including penalty assessments). Additionally, a first offense is also associated with the loss of a CDL for one year.  

But if the commercial driver was transporting hazardous materials at the time of the DUI arrest, then the disqualification period lasts three years. A second commercial DUI conviction is punishable by the loss of a CDL for life, resulting in the end of a commercial driver’s career. 

Driving a Personal Vehicle 

Remember, if a CDL holder has a BAC of at least .08 percent while driving his/her personal vehicle, his/her CDL will be subject to CDL revocation. In addition, a CDL holder cannot obtain a restricted license to operate a commercial vehicle during the suspension period but may be able to obtain one to driver a noncommercial vehicle. 

Losing your CDL can create various hardships in your life, including supporting yourself and your family. It is imperative to defend yourself and fight to obtain your CDL with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. 

If you have been arrested for a commercial DUI in Santa Barbara, call Appel & Morse at (805) 467-6060 or fill out our online contact form today to schedule a free consultation. Get a team of former prosecutors on your side! 

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